It is with great sadness that we, the faculty, students and staff of the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures and the Center for Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies at the University of Michigan, inform you of the sudden passing of our dear colleague, Omry Ronen, on November 1, 2012. Professor Ronen was a world-renown scholar of Russian literature, whose most influential scholarship ranged across many areas: historical and descriptive poetics, metrics, structural analysis of verse and prose, Russian Silver Age poetry, and particularly the work of Osip Mandel’shtam. His erudition was legendary and the energy and brilliance of his work were widely admired. Among the many other topics that his half-dozen books and one hundred-fifty articles dealt with were Pushkin’s poetics, subtextual interpretive strategies, the poetry of the Oberiu, Vladimir Nabokov and the problems of literary multilingualism, the picaresque in Russian literature, popular fiction and science fiction, children’s literature, intersemiotic transposition in the arts, literature and cinema, the history of Russian formalism and structuralism, twentieth century Ukrainian poetry, and, of course, the history and theory of Russian Symbolism, Acmeism and Futurism. Among his ground-breaking works are An Approach to Mandel’stam (1983), The Fallacy of the Silver Age in Twentieth-Century Russian Literature (1997), The Poetics of Osip Mandel’shtam (2002), and the three published volumes of his essays, Iz goroda Enn (From the City of NN) (2005, 2007, 2010). Two additional volumes of his essays, one on poetics and another on Acmeism, were in preparation at the time of his death. Throughout his career, until the day of his passing, the pace of his scholarly productivity never slowed—he published nine articles in 2011 and 2012. One of those articles won the International “Portal 2011” prize for best critical essay on science fiction.
Professor Ronen was born in Odessa, Ukraine, USSR, on July 12, 1937. As an undergraduate he began his studies in Budapest, Hungary; he was arrested and imprisoned following the Soviet repression of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, but escaped to Israel, where he worked his way through college and completed a B.A. in Linguistics and English literature at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He then went on to complete his Ph.D. at Harvard University in Slavic Languages and Literatures; while completing his Ph.D. , he taught as a Lecturer at Harvard, MIT, Yale, Tel Aviv University and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He rose to the rank of Associate Professor of Russian and Comparative Literature at the Hebrew University during the late 1970s and early 1980s, returning periodically as a visiting professor to Harvard, Yale and the University of Texas. In 1985, he began his tenure as an Associate Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures at the University of Michigan and was promoted to the rank of Professor in 1994. Professor Ronen served as a member of the Editorial Board of some of our field’s most important journals, including Elementa, Novoe Literaturnoe Obozrenie (New Literature Review), and Philologica. At Michigan, he was the winner of awards for Excellence in Research and Excellence in Teaching.
Professor Ronen was an inspiring teacher and a generous mentor. He taught courses on modern Russian poetry (Symbolism, Acmeism, Futurism), Silver Age Russian prose, Pushkin, the Russian picaresque, Russian social fiction, Bulgakov, Nabokov, Old Russian literature, Russian Formalism, and Poetics and Rhetoric. His present and past students (many of the latter now teach at prominent universities in our field) will sorely miss his presence as an interlocutor and as a veritable encyclopedia of knowledge of Russian literature, as will we, his colleagues.
Herbert Eagle, Chair, Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures
Olga Maiorova, Director, CREES